NASA's National Awareness Plan

Editor's update: This document is the report NASA sent to Congress in response to the NASA Authorization Act of 2005. I am not at all impressed with this - it seems more like a preliminary (and incomplete) concept outline for a real report than an actual report itself. But Congress asked for a "plan" not a "report". It would seem that this last product from Joe Davis' tenure at NASA has underwelmed the folks currently at StratComm as well since they are now out to totally re-think NASA's strategic communications. Stay tuned.

Editor's note: According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-155) (see text below) NASA was supposed to have submitted a plan for a "National Awareness Plan" to the House and Senate in Spring 2006. Curiously, no public mention of this plan has been made by NASA (or by Congress) - nor have any of NASA's outreach efforts been specifically connected to the contents of such a plan.

"SEC. 102. REPORTS.

(a) National Awareness Campaign

(1) IN GENERAL- The Administrator shall implement, beginning not later than May 1, 2006, a national awareness campaign through various media, including print, radio, television, and the Internet, to articulate missions, publicize recent accomplishments, and facilitate efforts to encourage young Americans to enter the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering to help maintain United States leadership in those fields.

(2) REPORTS- (A) Not later than April 1, 2006, the Administrator shall transmit a plan to the Committee on Science of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate describing the activities that will be undertaken as part of the national awareness campaign required by paragraph (1) and the expected cost of those activities. NASA may undertake activities as part of the national awareness campaign prior to the transmittal of the plan required by this subparagraph, but the plan shall include a description of any activities undertaken prior to the transmittal and the estimated cost of those activities.

(B) Not later than three years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall transmit to the Committee on Science of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate an assessment of the impact of the national awareness campaign."

The rationale for this plan appears in House Report 109-118 Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, Fiscal Year 2006:

"NASA's mission to research, investigate, and explore the limits of aeronautics and the outer reaches of space, is unique among Federal agencies. While NASA is a civilian agency, its pursuits and capabilities have a direct impact on the strategic and economic health of the nation. Too often, those who benefit most from NASA, the American people, are not aware of those successes, benefits and opportunities. The Committee directs NASA to engage in a national awareness campaign. The purpose of such a campaign is to provide NASA with a venue in various media (print, radio, television, Internet, etc.) to articulate missions, recent accomplishments and recruitment efforts to young Americans. This will also provide a mechanism by which to excite and encourage our young people to enter the fields of science, math, and engineering and in doing so help maintain America's leadership in these fields.

NASA possesses a unique capability among Federal government agencies in that it has its own television station. This station is carried nationally on cable television stations. The Committee believes this asset is significantly underutilized and could be used as a centerpiece in helping to excite the next generation of explorers in science. NASA has made numerous important discoveries in recent years as a result of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Mars Rovers, and the Chandra Space telescope to mention a few. NASA must take advantage of its television resources to inform and excite the public about these discoveries. NASA television has for the most part in recent years been used almost exclusively as an internal communications medium. NASA must make more effective use of this capability if NASA is to be permitted to retain it. NASA is directed to develop an integrated communications plan for NASA television. This plan should have a major focus on educating and exciting the next generation of explorers. This plan is to be submitted to the Committee in conjunction with the submission of NASA's fiscal year 2007 budget request."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on October 16, 2006 6:44 PM.

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